Author: James Croft

Pixel Buds from Google

Dieter Bohn at The Verge:

Google is making wireless headphones that are specifically designed to be the first and best option for people who buy Google phones — just like AirPods are designed for iPhones.

A couple quick thoughts from me:

  • Obviously these are corded wireless earbuds, but are not truly wireless like AirPods.
  • One of the things I really like about AirPods is being able to wear just one. This kind of corded design makes it really difficult to do that without hurting your ear.
  • Aesthetically, these remind me a lot of the i.am+ Buttons, but less blingy. Not a bad thing. If you don’t like the stem on the AirPods, perhaps you prefer this.
  • The touch controls are only on the right earbud. That’s kind of weird.
  • They don’t turn off automatically when they’re not in your ear. AirPods do.
  • These are the first earbuds I’ve seen that use a corded loop to secure it inside your ear. I hope that works!
  • The carrying case looks nowhere near as small as AirPods. I doubt they are pocketable in jeans. Wrapping the cord inside the case looks fiddly.
  • I think it’s a good idea that Google is doing simplified pairing to your device. That’s table stakes now.
  • Their headline feature ‘real time translation experience’ is mighty impressive. You can see a demo of it here in The Verge’s event supercut. Very cool, futuristic application of Google’s AI chops. How often would I use it? Not often, but it would be really cool if you need it.
  • These are priced at AU$249 vs. AirPods at AU$229.

If I was an Android user and needed a new pair of earbuds, I’d be taking a long hard look at these. However, as a current iPhone user, I’m still very happy with AirPods. They’re not perfect either, but they get a lot right.

Source: Up close with Pixel Buds, Google’s answer to AirPods – The Verge

Last night Sonos held an event in New York, and because I am a tragic who enjoys my multi-room speaker action I thought I’d summarise it for you.

  • First things first: Sonos announced the long-rumoured Sonos One. It looks a lot like a Play:1 speaker equipped with far-field microphones on top. These allow voice assistants (like Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant) to work. Comes in white or black, priced at AU$299. Preorder is now open. It delivers October 24th.
  • Because Alexa support is not officially available in Australia yet, Sonos are pitching the Sonos One as coming with ‘future-ready voice control’ for us Aussie battlers. So those fancy new features aren’t going to be ready for you right out of the box.
  • Should you get one anyway? Hard to say. There’s probably a way to trick it into thinking you’re in the US, but I couldn’t say for sure until it ships.
  • If you’ve already got an Echo, Dot (or other Alexa device) you can now sign up for the public beta to enable Alexa support for your existing speakers. An firmware update is coming soon to switch it on. It’ll do anything Alexa does now. Neat.
  • Don’t get too stoked though, because right now Alexa playback support is only limited to Amazon Music, Tunein, Pandora, iHeartRadio, SiriusXM. So you could tell Alexa to play Triple J via TuneIn, but not your Spotify 90s playlist (yet). Support for more streaming services is coming ‘soon after launch’.
  • Google Assistant support is coming in 2018. Sonos want to be able to enable multiple assistants, so expect them to integrate with others in the future too. I’m looking at you Cortana user, you beautiful weird rare unicorn.
  • Sonos is offically committing to support Airplay 2, which means they will be able to be controlled by any Siri-capable device. It also means that non-Sonos approved sources –say, a podcast player or music player– should be able to be played on their speakers too. They haven’t yet confirmed this is for all existing Sonos speakers, but because AirPlay 2 is software-based, it should be able to be added. Again, this is coming later in 2018.
  • A redesigned Sonos app is now available in the Australian iOS App Store and Google Play. It has a tab bar at the bottom! Thank god.
  • It prompted an update of my speakers immediately.
  • My long-shot hope remained unfulfilled – Sonos did not talk about updating the Playbar/Playbase with Dolby Atmos support. Dang.

That’s all the major news! Personally, I’m still waiting on which voice assistant ecosystem to commit to. After all this news, I’m still not sure.

Consider this: if Alexa support officially comes to Australia soon, then that will make the Play One a great option. For existing Sonos owners, a couple of cheap Amazon Dots would do the same job.

Or, if you’re Google inclined (or are considering the recently-announced Google Home Mini or Google Home Max) then you can buy a Play One instead of a Google Home, and all you are waiting for is for Sonos to enable their support for Google Assistant.

Or, if Airplay 2 support is coming, then the door is open for a combination of Sonos speakers and a HomePod (or, y’know, any Siri-enabled Apple device).

Whichever flavour you choose, most Aussie Sonos owners are still going to need to wait for a piece of this puzzle to fall into place before fully committing to the voice-assisted future.

Michael McWhertor at Polygon:

Universal and Frontier Developments (Elite DangerousPlanet Coaster) revealed Jurassic World Evolution, a dinosaur theme park simulation for PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One, at Gamescom today. Jurassic World Evolution is expected to arrive sometime during summer 2018.

A brilliant idea for a game. Even better, it’s being developed by the talented developers behind Planet Coaster — which is the Cities: Skylines of theme park builders.

Source: Jurassic World park sim coming from Planet Coaster developer – Polygon

Join James CroftRaj Deut and Anthony Agius as we talk the Game of Thrones Foxtel meltdown, Turnbull’s mathematics challenge, Google’s new-old products (now with 100% less drop-shipping), and more.

Ant has a Sizzle meetup coming up! Sunday 23rd July at the Boatbuilder’s Yard in South Wharf, Melbourne, from 1:30pm. Come for the Sizzle, but stay for the Raj.

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Diana Bass and Ian King at Bloomberg:

Microsoft Corp. is committing to use chips based on ARM Holdings Plc technology in the machines that run its cloud services, potentially imperiling Intel Corp.’s longtime dominance in the profitable market for data-center processors.

No significant presence in mobile. Fierce competition in desktop PCs. If Intel loses their grip on the server market they are in all sorts of trouble.

Source: Microsoft Pledges to Use ARM Server Chips, Threatening Intel’s Dominance – Bloomberg